Back on Land

One Navy wife making a life back on land.


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A Tomato Revelation

I was walking around downtown yesterday, snapping a few photos for an upcoming post and reveling in the sunshine and warm air, when I decided to stroll through the Bremerton Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Terminal. I was thrilled to buy some homemade soaps and giddy to find my favorite salsa vendor had shown up. Then I saw the real reason I love farmers markets, the vegetable stand.

I love a vegetable stand. Love. LOVE.

In my head I picture tractors and dirty overalls, calloused hands, and good clean country living as I stare at each and every handpicked pepper and zucchini. It reminds me of my own Granny and Papaw and their amazing garden that grew everything from green beans to grapes and of the family dinners we shared around Granny’s table. The vegetable stand is a trip down memory lane.

On that day my eyes were drawn to the tomatoes. These tomatoes, in fact.

A Tomato Revelation

“They don’t quite look like what I normally buy at Safeway. Are they a special variety?”

The farmer smiled and chuckled and began to educate me about her tomatoes. She told me that they were in fact not a special variety; they are what tomatoes are supposed to look like. She explained that somewhere along the way someone decided that tomatoes should be bright red, quite large, and perfectly round, the better to fit on a sandwich, I guess. I’d never given it much thought, but it made sense to me. She went on to say that these tomatoes would also be more fragile, more prone to bruising or bursting if I wasn’t careful, than the store bought variety, as they haven’t been bred for the sole purpose of travelling well. This also made them juicier because the skin was not as tough as the others. She shared their names and the special attributes of each type: one sweeter, one meatier, all much tastier than what I usually pick up at the store.

This struck me as particularly sad. I bought two pounds and walked away deep in thought … about tomatoes, about expectations and reality, and about my own life. The tomatoes in the store, the ones I buy for just a dollar or two per pound, are barely a hint of what nature intended them to be. Somewhere along the way, a person decided how they should look, feel, and travel and changed them. It was probably a slow process. It likely took years, but it happened, and now I have children, just one generation away from the farm, that looked at these real tomatoes and said, “What are they?”

I have definitely looked at myself with that same cock-eyed questioning at times and asked, “Who are you?” I have for most of my adult life struggled to be something different than who I am, struggled to become like that store-bought tomato, perfect for every situation, the right look, the right response, and I always find that when I am looking for that type of one size fits all presentation, I take on the less appealing attributes of the store-bought variety, a water-downed, less appealing version of myself.

These tomatoes, the real tomatoes, are funny looking, but I like to think of it as character. They aren’t what we’re used to; they are surprisingly delicious. They are what a tomato was intended to be before someone decided that was no longer what was best. They are perfectly imperfect.

I hope that from now on I can remember this each time I try to dress or speak or act to impress. Character over curb appeal. Flavor over fashion. Substance over what someone else would have me to be.

I want to be like that funny looking tomato, just what God intended.


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I Got This! (But You Might Disagree)

I had  a revelation yesterday. It was equal parts empowering and freeing, with a hint of hilarity and a moment of self-doubt. All within the span of about 25 minutes.

I Got This

Driving home from Compass, as Alli napped in her car seat and Jack Johnson crooned about banana pancakes on the radio, I was feeling pretty damn good about myself. I’d just finished up another great session, feeling like I’d had one of my best teaches ever, like I’d found my groove as the Food Coordinator, and already excited for next month’s class. Though busy, the week has been all around pretty good at home, too. No fast food, healthy lunches, clean clothes for everybody, homework done, happy kids. Boom! I GOT THIS!!!

I got home, parked the car in the garage (all the while congratulating myself for being so clearly awesome), and walked into the family room. A strange, unpleasant smell and an overly excited chihuahua met me at the door. Two baskets of laundry taunted me from the couch while a crowded floor begged to be picked and vacuumed. As I entered the kitchen, I was further taunted by a sad sink full of dishes crying out to be washed. My house was speaking to me, and it was saying,

“Oh yeah? You got this? I disagree.”

I immediately began to doubt myself. Have I got this? Really? REALLY?! How can I say “I got this!” when this house is such a mess?!? I sat there for a moment taking it all in, trying to sort out my feelings, before I realized,

“Oh yeah, I GOT THIS! I really do!!!”

So my house isn’t showroom ready today. If I’m being honest, it never is. On my best days, I’m lucky to see a clear and vacuumed floor. I mean, a family of five lives here. We kick off our shoes wherever we land after a long day. Alli colors more pictures than my refrigerator can hold and leaves them here there and everywhere for me to enjoy. We have frequent movie nights that REQUIRE loads of cuddly blankets that remain scattered all around. All those things equal a messy family room, but they also equal a happy family.

As for the kitchen, on one hand dirty dishes mean we cooked and we ate. Feeding my family makes me happy, and eating makes us ALL happy. On the other hand, dirty dishes also mean that I’ve fed my girls one less fast food meal, and as we struggle with a deep and unabiding love of McDonald’s, I call that a win! How often are your “on one hand or the other” choices BOTH so positive?

And the smell? The “mess” that the excitable little chihuahua made? Well, Charity has joined right into the fray of teaching this impatient momma the art of letting it go. Messes happen, and that’s precisely why I own a carpet cleaner. Besides how long can you really be angry with this little face?

charity

My house is, admittedly, a hot freaking mess today, but I’m okay with that. Are you okay with that? Maybe not. Maybe your “I got this!” moment comes from a desire to deep clean and a sense of pride in sparkling counters and neatly folded t-shirts and underwear. Maybe my “I got this!” week  sounds terrible to you. That’s okay!!! You scrub your kitchen; I’ll catch up later. We’ll both be happy. You don’t have to like the things that fulfill me, and I could never attain the immaculate home that makes some people tick.

But if I’ve had a great week and your house sparkles, do you know what that means to me? It just means we’ve BOTH got this … in our own ways … separate from one another yet sharing that awesome feeling of accomplishment. WE GOT THIS!!!

 


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You Must Be Used To It By Now, Right?

I hear it all the time …

“Josh is gone again? Well … you must be used to it by now, right?”

I know you don’t mean to be hurtful. I know you simply don’t understand my world, but I don’t know how to answer so I just smile and nod and change the topic.

Am I used to it by now?

Well, we have been at this for a while, fourteen patrols I believe, so I am prepared, if that’s what you mean. I have maintenance on speed dial and a good relationship with a mechanic, just in case. I have the Powers of Attorney and the Will, heaven forbid. We discussed the bills, routine maintenance, expectations and reality. We’ve made decisions about the kids, about the finances, about the just-in-case-this-happens emergencies. We’ve marked off every box of the almighty Pre-Deployment Checklist we’ve created over the years. I am as prepared as I can be.

But am I used to it by now?

No, I am not. I will never get used to sleeping alone or waking up hugging a lukewarm pillow. I will never get used typing a carefully worded version of my feelings every night and praying that he reads my love between the lines. I will never get used to family holidays minus my other half, and I will never get used to celebrating my anniversary alone.

I will never get used to sleeping with the only letter I may see in three months under my pillow just because his hands touched it so recently. I will never get used to telling my kids how proud their dad would be, is always, and will be when we are able to share their daily achievements, and I will never get used to hearing a four-year-old say wearing daddy’s old worn t-shirt is “almost like a daddy hug.”

I will never get used to making the decisions alone that we couldn’t have anticipated. I will never get used to the fear of losing a loved one while he’s gone and handling it on my own. I will never get used to my kids’ tears when it’s been a bad day or week, and just having Dad here would ease the strain. I will never get used to that.

I can’t complain much because we also live homecomings that are indescribably amazing. We get to live here, there, and everywhere and see all that this beautiful country has to offer. I’ve made friends I would never have met had we not shared this life.

But will I ever get used to losing my husband for months at a time?

Dear God, I hope not.


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A Tale of Two Sinks

These are the tales of two very different “sinks.” In one I see depression and in the other simply a few bad days. While they are both “sinks,” they couldn’t be more different, but “sinks” they are and emotional and painful in their own way.

A Tale of Two Sinks

When she moved here, she was full of optimism. She loved new experiences; she loved travel. She reveled in challenge, and she delighted in new-ness. She just knew she would conquer this new duty station with a smile on her face.

And then the ice came, and the power was knocked out. The cable installation took weeks. The dryer quit, and the couch got broken in the move. The schools weren’t as welcoming as they should have been, and the baby wouldn’t leave her side even for a moment, crying outside the bathroom door while she tried to have just 2 minutes to herself. Then he deployed, and she was alone.

For months she stayed locked in her home, barely leaving, rarely getting out of her pajamas. She cried often over missed friends, lonely holidays, and most of all her own disappointment in herself for not being able to thrive in this place she’d once been so excited to see.

She sank, and it was painful in a deep down, soul crushing way. She cried. She suffered mood swings. She tried to hide it from her kids, but they knew.

And so she sank further.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

She felt she had it all. She had a nice home, a nice car, and a husband she was falling in love with more each day. She had the best girl friends she could ask for, and now that all the kids were all in school, she had time to herself. She often sipped coffee with friends at a local shop discussing upcoming social events and recent episodes of their favorite shows. She’d started eating better and exercising, and the “baby weight” was beginning to shift. She was thriving. 

Then he deployed, and she ended up on crutches. The once-happy kids melted down, one in therapy, one failing at school, and one simply more kid than she could take everyday. The dryer stopped again, and she yelled at it, at her kids, at the Navy, and at God all at once because there-is-just-only-so-much-I-can-handle-and-why-is-it-all-happening-to-me-right-now-I-can’t-take-this!!!

She sank. It didn’t last long. A good cry. A hug from her daughter. A good night’s sleep, and a few deep breaths. She made some lists, made some cuts, and rallied her network, and as quickly as it had all fallen apart, she built it back up again. Only days had gone by, and though “it all” looked different, she had it once again.

Two very different tales of what sinking can look like, but let’s not judge what was worse or who needed our help more. Your “sink” might not look like mine. You might be able to deal with more; I might have a stronger support network. She might have better plans in place, and I might be quicker to simply ask for help. No two “sinks” are the same, but each one is painful and crushing in its own way.

Remember this when you are sinking or when you see a friend sinking. Don’t judge. Don’t minimize, because a sink is a sink no matter how it looks to you. Whether it lasts for months and requires professional help or is solved with a hug and a good cry, any “sink” is painful when you’re in the midst of it.

I’ve had all kinds of “sinks” in my time, not just the two above, and I just want you to know that you aren’t alone when you sink. I want you to see that you aren’t alone, that what you’re feeling is okay, and that we’ve all been there before. You can pull out of it. You will thrive again.

Navy wives are a strong lot. We may sink for a day, or a week or even a month, but we always rise again!

Sink, Survive, or Thrive2


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Sink, Survive, or Thrive: Thriver’s Guilt

I had a completely different post in mind on Monday. It was the sad story of a blah day of nothingness that really brought me down, but then Tuesday happened … and it was GREAT! Wednesday was AWESOME, and Thursday and Friday just kept getting better!!! WOOHOO, right?!?

Sink, Survive, or Thrive

Then last weekend, while emailing my sailor all the fun details of our amazing week, I had a sad little moment of doubt. Should I really be emailing him this? Is it wrong to tell him how much fun we’re having without him? Will it bother him? Will it hurt his feelings? The thoughts began to tumble and roll with no end in sight, and I went to bed that night wondering …

Is really okay to thrive while my sailor is at sea?

Although I had a moment of hesitation, I know the answer, and the answer is a resounding YES!!! Is is more than okay to THRIVE while your sailor is at sea; in fact it’s the best thing you can do!!!

First,THRIVING IS GOOD FOR YOU. We do our best work when we are happy. We are better parents, friends, and co-workers when we are happy. We are more giving and more kind when we are truly happy, and the world just seems a little shinier when we are happy.

Second, THRIVING IS GOOD FOR YOUR SAILOR. Our sailors have important jobs, and they need to focus on them 100%. Who will do a better job at sea: a sailor who worries over his spouse everyday or a sailor who proudly knows his spouse is kicking butt and taking names?!? That second guy, of course, and that’s who we need showing up to work each day on a submarine!

Finally, THRIVING IS GOOD FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP. It’s as simple as 1 + 1 = 2. A happier YOU plus a happier SAILOR equals a happier relationship. It’s really a no brainer!

Now having said all that … I don’t thrive everyday. Just last week I had a blah day of nothingness that really brought me down, and I told Josh all about it. I told him I was bored and sad and missing him like crazy. I know my sailor, and I know that probably bothered him. I also know that my sailor knows me well enough to know that those feelings are temporary and that as usual I will work hard the next day to pick myself up and make every effort to thrive again.

And I will tell him all about that as well, so that he can thrive, too!


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Sink, Survive, or Thrive: Week 1

Last week was a bit rough. My oven broke, my new dog is STILL pooping on the carpet, and oh yeah … I freaking miss my husband. Despite all that, today I choose to thrive.

Sink, Survive, or Thrive

I’ve been Navy wife for a long time, and I’ve been through more patrols than I’d like to count (though the hubs likes to remind this is number 14). Over time I’ve noticed a few trends.

  1. I cope better when I’m happy. Duh. Patrol is easiest when you’re happy, right? Of course, but what I mean is when I am already happy, disappointments, let downs, or struggles are easier to handle. If I wake up in a good mood, enjoy a great cup of coffee, and get everyone to school dressed, prepared, and on time, a flat tire on the way home – as much as it sucks – is one bad thing in a day full of pretty darn good. Whereas if I wake up late, run out of coffee filters, and run late for everything, that flat tire is going to end with me shaking my fists at the heavens and yelling curse words at Big Navy.
  2. I’m happy when I’m in control of things. This is another “duh” if you know me, amiright? When I have a clear vision for the day including a to do list, a schedule, and a plan, I feel in control, and once again, when I feel in control of most things a few “out of control” moments are easier to manage.
  3. I’m in control when I plan to be in control. My very best days begin with a good cup of coffee and clean sheet of paper. I make a list of any housework I need to do (dishes, laundry, etc), lists to the side if I need to pick things up at the store, and a list of appointments (from preschool drop-off to FRG meetings to swim meets). I check things off as the day goes by, and by the end of the day I have a visual reminder that I’m getting it done. On the other hand, if I have no plan, things get missed/forgotten/messed up, and by the end of the day, all I have to show for it is a bad mood.

 

I guess what I’m saying is that a big part of thriving is choosing to thrive. You have to decide how to make yourself happy, and do that with purpose. Your happy make not come in the same way mine does. You may not need control and lists and schedules. Maybe you need free time. Maybe you need music. Maybe you need a weekly coffee date with friends. The point is take stock of what makes you happy and do that thing often. Make a conscious effort to be happy, and you will thrive.

Last night I set my coffee maker up in advance set I could wake up to the aroma of my favorite brew. I left my favorite notebook, my calendar, and a new pen next to my laptop beside my favorite chair. I put away the last load of laundry before I feel asleep. I am ready for the day, and I already feel great. Bring it on, world!

Because today I choose to thrive.

-Jodi

 

 

 


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Danger! Danger! Get Out of the House!!!

I have a little story to tell you about a very seasoned Navy wife whose first patrol after shore duty was a complete and total disaster. This Navy wife, living at a duty station she’d quickly grown to hate, made the subconscious decision to sit in her family room forever with nothing but the internet and trashy reality TV to keep her company. She stopped leaving the house except to buy groceries and pick up the occasional Big Mac.

She had three children. The two oldest went out to school each day and then came home again to sit in the family room with her. The third was quite young, and she simply crawled and then toddled and then walked around and around the family room, confined to the space to which her mother had confined herself.

You might think that this life filled with nothing was not very conducive to finding friends, making memories, or even living, and you would be correct. It wasn’t a life, and she wasn’t happy leading it. In fact she was quite sad. She missed her friends “back home” and wished everyday that she had a reason to get dressed, somewhere to go, and someone to see when she arrived.

Luckily, the very seasoned Navy wife accidentally found an out, Mother Nature provided some much needed sunshine, and her self-imposed confinement came to an end. Summertime, a class called Compass, and her children’s cries to GET OUT saved her, but she vowed never to forget the feelings of sadness and isolation of those first months and her own later bewilderment at how even a seasoned spouse like herself could get sucked into such a painful cycle.

Today she writes this blog called Back on Land, and she hopes that if you are reading this and you identify with her self-confinement, that you will see the error of her ways and get out of your house. She knows it seems easier said than done. She knows the not leaving may seem much easier than heading out into a world you feeling like you’re saving yourself from. She also knows how much happier she is now in the outside world, and she wants to share a few tips for finding your own happy in the outside world.

  1. Take a shower and get dressed … right now. Yoga pants won’t cut it. Real clothes are necessary in the real world.
  2. Get the kids up and ready, too, if you have them.
  3. Get in your car and go.

 

It can be that simple.* Get. out. of. your. house. There are a million places in the world better for you than the prison your house can become. Find a playground for your kids to play at and play with them. Explore a local park and walk a trail or two. Go to a lake or a beach, and walk along the waterline. Look for an outdoor market. Walk the sidewalks of your city and window shop. Pack a picnic basket and a big blanket and find a shady spot to lunch. Bring a book, find a tree, read and repeat.The gist here is GET OUTSIDE and MOVE. Fresh air, sunshine, and a little exercise can be a great jump-start to your dead battery, and sometimes a little jump-start is exactly what you need to get your engine going!

This very seasoned Navy wife I know. I’ve been there, and I hope to see you outside again very soon.

 

mil1source

*This seasoned Navy wife also recognizes that for some people this self-confinement is more than just a case of being sad. Depression is real and certainly requires more than her “get some sunshine and take a walk” approach. There are many resources for military spouses who are affected by despression, but for now I’ll throw out one that is available and accessible to all military spouses: Military OneSource

 

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